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Housing solutions are climate action: Climate strike speech

Our coordinator Aina Yasué was honoured to have been asked to speak at the recent Climate Rally and Strike on Salt Spring, part of events that took place in over 80 countries around the world.

Aina spoke, as did others, about the imperative of climate justice, which means you can’t separate issues like climate, housing affordability, and community from each other. These big problems are interconnected, and need to be addressed together.

Here is the full text of Aina’s speech:

“For the past 4 months, I have been lucky enough to connect with and interview local residents through our Goodbye Salt Spring storytelling project. We heard from over 50 residents who took the time to reach out and tell us their experiences about struggling to find or keep a home here. From the conversations we had with these folks who work in all aspects of our community, we know that people are losing sleep, working multiple jobs without days off, living in spaces with mold and uninsulated walls, with no access to hot water, and so much more, just keep up a roof over their heads.

Most people prefaced their stories of struggle with the gratitude they feel about their sense of connection to community and to nature that they experience here on Salt Spring. From the cool wind that comes off the ocean even during heat waves, to the people who are kind and make eye contact when passing by, Salt Spring has tremendous qualities that we all value.

Although 50 people is a small sample of the total population of Salt Spring, they represent a significant issue that impacts us all. Which is why this is such a critical time. We’re in danger of losing what we love about our community, and what we love about the world.

There are multiple crises and pressures on these islands including lack of affordable housing for our workforce and young families, the impacts of climate change, which is accelerating biodiversity loss, development pressures, and systemic racism ingrained in our culture and systems of governance. All of this must be addressed at the same time, because they are all equally important.

There are housing development solutions that use less water, energy, and resources while not losing sight of something else we depend on tremendously – the people. To separate and set community values of environment and inclusion up as oppositional goals is not constructive. It does not help us when environment and people are put in hierarchical placement in relation to each other. Please don’t settle for simplistic “people vs environment” or “environment over people” answers to this pressing issue. Let’s lean into the complexity and do big things together as a community that make us more sustainable and more just.

Thank you.”

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